Quorn on par with animal protein, study finds

Research has found that the protein found in Quorn meat-free products may be on par with the bioavailability of animal proteins.

Bioavailability describes the level of protein present in food products, with animal protein purporting a high bioavailability meaning they are ideal for building muscle.

A higher bioavailability means that more protein can be used for the body – quite a coup for the meat-free protein.

The University of Exeter research – funded by Quorn Foods and published in in the British Journal of Nutrition – compared milk protein with Mycoprotein – the fungi-based protein source found in Quorn foods – and found “equivalent” bioavailability.

University scientists say more research is now needed to see if the high bioavailability of Mycoprotein translates to beneficial effects, equivalent to animal proteins, on muscle tissue for various different groups of people.

First author Mandy Dunlop, of the University of Exeter, said:  “Quorn’s Mycoprotein is produced with far less impact on the environment, and our research shows the bioavailability of its protein is equivalent to that of milk.”

Consuming protein results in an increased availability of amino acids and insulin in the blood, leading to “muscle protein synthesis” (muscle building) in the hours after eating.

Extensive research has been done on animal proteins, many of which have high bioavailability, and these are often recommended to people who need extra protein to maintain or remodel muscle tissue.

Many plant proteins have lower bioavailability – but the researchers say bioavailability in Quorn’s Mycoprotein is “very good”.

Senior author Dr Benjamin Wall said: “We concluded that Mycoprotein provides a very bioavailable dietary protein source, and speculate that it would be an effective source of protein to support muscle building in a variety of populations.”